PLANS to downgrade maternity services at North Wales hospitals look set to be thrown out.

The recommendation of a special report by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board into temporary changes to women’s and maternity services is that maternity units at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor should remain open.

Published last night, the report is due to be discussed at the board’s next meeting on Thursday, December 10, with the recommendations expected to be approved.

The report states: “On the basis of this assessment and the changes which have occurred since the decision to consult was made, the previous judgement that temporary changes were required imminently to ensure the safe management of risks to mothers and babies has changed.

“Successful recruitment of both midwives and consultant medical staff will enable the risks to be managed more effectively than has been possible in recent months, although the health board remains concerned about long-term sustainability of the current service model.

“The board is asked to recognise that recent successful recruitment appears to have improved the ability of the service to manage the risks to mothers and babies for the immediate future, meaning that the temporary changes to consultant-led Obstetrics services will not be required.

“Gynaecology services will also continue to be provided on three hospital sites, although because of capacity constraints, some women will be asked to travel to England for elective gynaecology surgery.”

In August the board announced four options as part of a consultation on the future of maternity services in North Wales.

Three of the options involve the temporary closure of doctor-led services at one of three hospitals – Glan Clwyd, Gwynedd or Wrexham Maelor.

Thousands signed petitions against the closure proposals during the consultation period and the campaigning appears to have proved successful.

Meanwhile, the health board continues to be in special measures.

Deputy Minister for Health in Wales Vaughan Gething AM said: “We took clear and decisive action, on the advice of independent experts, to place the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in special measures.

“Following our intervention, we are seeing real progress being made.

“One of the reasons for putting the health board into special measures was the need for the board to show tangible improvement in reconnecting with the public and become a listening organisation.

“The papers being published today are the result of a detailed, open and transparent consultation process with the people of North Wales and NHS staff.

“This is exactly the kind of progress we want to see.

“It is important to give people certainty on the temporary options.

“The recommendation for the health board shows that the current position is more stable than a number of months ago.”

He added: “While no final decision has been made, it is now for the board to consider and properly discuss the recommendations carefully when it agrees its response in its public board next week.

“Looking towards the future of maternity and paediatric services in North Wales, we remain committed to the SuRNICC and recently announced £1.4m of funding to develop the plans and a recruitment process is under way.

“We will continue to provide extra support under the special measures arrangements to help turn around the health board and regain the confidence of the people it serves.”